Summer 2016. I am in a meeting with police departments in Sacramento, California, discussing mental health in the context of criminal justice. A father talks about his son’s experience with mental illness and how the police officers helped him through his breakdowns. His story is heartbreaking; his son’s breakdowns were so strong that police had to restrain him. Yet there is an elephant in the room: had his son been black, he would have been shot by the police.
And the elephant continues to go unaddressed. Two hours later, in a meeting on criminal justice, there is not a peep…
“If you prayed more often, this wouldn’t happen.”
When I repeated my parents’ comments to my therapist, she asked me why they were not being supportive. I had no answer back then, but now I do: decades of culturally-ingrained misinformation and an underlying stubbornness to believe otherwise.
Clinical mistrust and skepticism of mental health are recurring themes among South Asians, and to some degree, it is understandable. Big pharma and the frustrations of the American healthcare system often alienate individuals from seeking treatment for mental illnesses. Additionally, the medical model does not work for everyone. Sometimes, what an individual needs…
Our narratives are buried in mainstream, tossed aside because our stories don’t quite fit a mold that exists. So it’s time to create a new box for ourselves.
TW: suicidal ideation, self-harm, sexual assault
The morning after was the worst.
I remember opening my eyes at 9:20 AM. It was a Sunday morning in April 2014. I could barely register what had happened. My trusted friend, the friend who knew about my depression, about my father’s illness, had violated me in a way I didn’t think he was capable of.
But he was my friend. He wouldn’t have done what…
South Asian American author, intersectional feminist and New Yorker. I write about mental health, feminism, social justice, and more.